Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal condition associated with abdominal pain, bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea.

About 10 to 15 percent of adults suffer from IBS, and only around half of these are diagnosed1. The most common symptoms are diarrhea, constipation, bloating, abdominal pain and other problems related to bowel movements and the GI tract.2

While the exact causes of this condition are not well understood, diet, stress and the bacteria living in the gut are potential factors that trigger IBS symptoms. Even other factors such as how the brain and gut communicate, genetics and the level of certain hormones and other chemicals may also be involved in IBS. Because both internal and external factors influence IBS, lifestyle and nutrition habits can affect the condition.3

Certain foods or diets can make IBS symptoms worse. By avoiding foods that trigger IBS symptoms, keeping track of what is eaten and eating beneficial nutrients such as fibre, discomfort can be reduced. A healthcare professional may recommend a low FODMAP (Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols) diet that is low in fermentable carbohydrates. Medications may be helpful in some instances, and new research on the benefits of probiotics shows that these may also be effective in people with IBS. GI health is a primary area of focus at Nestlé Health Science, and we are committed to finding and providing nutritional options to patients suffering from GI conditions.

  1. Grundmann O, Yoon SL. Irritable bowel syndrome: epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment: an update for health-care practitioners. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2010;25:691–699.
  2. Irritable bowel syndrome. American College of Gastroenterology website. Link Disclaimer
  3. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Accessed March 2015.
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Irritable bowel syndrome is a type of functional gastrointestinal disorder

While it feels unpleasant, the good news is that certain steps can be taken to help alleviate symptoms.



Occasional symptoms like those described here may occur in almost anyone, without being diagnosed as IBS. IBS must be diagnosed by a doctor when these symptoms have occurred at least three times per month for six months or more. In this case, it is important to see a physician, to be sure that IBS, and not another condition, is the problem.

Source: Accessed March 2015



Foods rich in dietary fibre, but with lower contents of certain sugars like fructose and lactose may help with irritable bowel syndrome.

Source: Shephard et al American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2013; 108(5: 707-717)



Certain foods are more likely to cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) like symptoms or to make them worse. Examples include dairy products, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and caffeine, fatty foods and foods that cause gas, like beans. Asking a dietitian for advice on a diet that could help manage the condition maybe be beneficial.

Source: Accessed March 2015